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President Joe Biden pledged during his campaign that he would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour if he won the White House, tipping his hat to progressives who believe the current federal minimum wage leaves working-class Americans impoverished.
Biden seemingly made good on that promise with his $1.9 trillion coronavirus-related economic relief plan. Stuffed inside Biden’s proposal is the minimum wage hike.
But now it appears the minimum wage hike could be jettisoned altogether as Democrats and Republicans negotiate the third round of COVID-related economic stimulus.
What is going on?
Biden admitted in an interview with CBS News that aired before the Super Bowl that his key campaign promise of hiking the minimum wage likely will not survive legislative negotiations.
“My guess is it will not be in it,” he said, Politico reported. “I don’t think it is going to survive.”
Biden cited Senate rules that require 60 votes to invoke cloture on bills to avoid a filibuster.
The president, however, added that not all hope is lost. He said that he may pursue raising the minimum wage in the future, though he did not say when that time will come. He also said he is open to incrementally raising the federal minimum wage, a process that would take years before reaching the $15 per hour promised land.
“I am prepared as president of the United States on a separate negotiation of minimum wage to work my way up from what it is now,” Biden said. “No one should work 40 hours a week and live below the poverty wage, and if you’re making less than $15 an hour, you’re living below the poverty wage.”
Is there still hope for Dems?
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, has advocated using the budget reconciliation process to pass Biden’s COVID relief bill and, therefore, the minimum wage hike.
The reconciliation process only requires 51 votes to pass legislation.
Sen. Bernie Sanders says Democrats will use reconciliation “as soon as we possibly can" to pass a Covid-19 relief package, which will allow for a 51 majority vote rather than 60.
— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) January 24, 2021
In fact, Sanders revealed over the weekend that there is a “room full of lawyers” working to ensure Biden’s bill can be passed through budget reconciliation.
“I can tell you as chairman of the (Senate Budget Committee), we have a room full of lawyers working as hard as we can to make the case to the parliamentarian that, in fact, raising the minimum wage will have significant budget implications and, in fact, should be consistent with reconciliation rules,” Sanders explained.
Biden’s minimum wage pledge is not his only promise to take a hit in the first weeks of his presidency.
While Democrats campaigned for the Georgia runoffs election last month, Biden promised one day before the dual elections that Democrats would immediately pass more COVID-related economic stimulus that included $2,000 checks. Democrats would be able to do it with effective control of the Senate.
However, when Biden introduced his COVID relief proposal the next week, he included only $1,400 checks, claiming the second round of stimulus passed in December under then-President Donald Trump, which included $600 checks, was a “down payment.”
The development left Democratic voters feeling betrayed, with some even pledging to not vote for Democrats ever again.